New York Pride is one of the biggest gay prides in the world. Every year, around 3-4 million people descend on the city to take part in this fantastic and glorious event, rivalling Sao Paulo as one of the largest and biggest.
New York is also where our Pride history began, back in 1969, following a spate of police riots on gay establishments. On the 28th June 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn. But this time, the LGBTQ community fought back, which led to a series of riots and protest movements, calling for the advancement of LGBTQ rights. These protest movements quickly spread all around the world, and voila, Pride was born!
The LGBTQ Movement has made huge leaps forward since Stonewall, but there is progress to be made, which is why Pride still matters today
We always love coming to NYC. It's super exciting and always has something going on in every street you roam. These are the streets that the Godfather was set, where Sarah Jessica Parker sashayed down dreaming of Mr Big and the place where FRIENDS was set. NYC during Pride is perhaps the most exciting of all, especially for LGBTQ travellers. We've put together this comprehensive guide for New York during Pride, including the best parties to check out, the main Pride events, the best places to stay, and things to do.
Disclosure: this was written as part of a paid collaboration with Moon Travel Guides.
Discover the history of gay New York
Make sure you spend some time exploring the most important gay locations and monuments while you're in New York. The area near the Stonewall Inn and Greenwich Village is filled with important sites relating to the history of Pride.
What we cover in this guide
Practical travel tip: get the Moon New York City guidebook
For our trip to New York Pride, we used the Moon New York City travel guide, which we highly recommend.
It is targeted towards independent travellers, written by locals who know the hidden gems of the city. We also love it as a resource because Moon Travel Guides does not accept payment for inclusion, and their authors are not allowed to accept free goods/services in exchange for positive coverage. Therefore, you know that everything recommended is genuine, tried and tested, and can, therefore, be relied on.
Moon New York City is perfect for LGBTQ travellers planning to visit during Pride (or at any time of the year), because it gives specific listings for the gay venues in each neighbourhood, along with detailed maps, including a handy pull-out. It also gives you the best things to do, places to see, where to go partying and a handy detailed directory of practical travel tips for visiting NYC.
We have also included some of our favourites in this post, but be sure to check out Moon guidebooks for even more practical tips and tricks for navigating the city.
A word about New York Pride
Because New York is where the Stonewall Riots started the whole movement of Pride, this is always an incredible time to visit the city. Pride NYC is the place to be and the gay event of the year! If you visit during June you'll be able to celebrate just over half a century of LGBTQ pride with some of the best parties, talks, film screenings, theatre performances, art exhibitions and more.
When is New York Pride?
The main Pride parade takes place on the last Sunday of June from around noon. Check their website and Facebook page for the most up-to-date info.
Other Pride events will be taking place throughout June, which is nicknamed, “Pride Month“. The climax of New York Pride is on the last weekend of June, which coincides with the date of the 1969 Stonewall riots.
Where will Pride take place?
The Pride Parade kicks off at noon at Madison Square Park on the last Sunday in June. It will pass by the Stonewall Inn and the AIDS memorial before looping through Manhattan, then ending in Chelsea. The total estimated time to walk the route is around 1.5 hours, so remember to bring plenty of water and suncream if you're participating. If you just want to watch, the entire thing can go on for more than nine hours!
A huge variety of other events will be taking place at locations throughout New York City in June, from rallies to parties, to lectures and film screenings.
Main events at New York Pride
There will be many events taking place in New York City during Pride month, like fairs, concerts, marches, film screenings and lectures. Here are some of the best to look out for:
- Pride Opening Ceremony: the opening ceremony concert for Pride is always epic, and usually takes place on the Wednesday before the parade at Barclays Centre from 6 pm. There are live music acts and special guests, Whoopi Goldberg hosted in 2019!
- Pride Island concert: Pride Island is a multi-day live music event that takes place on the last weekend of June on Pier 97 at Hudson River Park. It's a huge party with live music and international DJs, Madonna even performed in 2019! You do have to be over 21 to attend though and get your tickets quick as it often sells out very fast.
- The NYC Dyke March (FREE): the New York City Dyke March is more in keeping with the feeling of the original Pride marches, in that it is a protest march instead of a parade. This march usually takes place the day before the main parade, beginning at Bryant Park from 5 pm and finishing in Washington Square Park. The march is a space for anyone who identifies as a Dyke to protest the discrimination, harassment, and violence they face in schools, at work and within their communities.
- PrideFest street fair (FREE): PrideFest is an annual LGBTQ street fair that combines exhibitors, entertainers and activities for a day of fun and celebration in the name of equality. Taking place from 11 am to 6 pm, it's the perfect event to check out after watching the parade, and it's totally free! The fair takes up the entire street of 4th Avenue between Union Square and Astor Place.
- Pride Closing Ceremony: The closing ceremony for Pride usually takes place at Times Square directly after the parade, with a concert featuring artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Jake Shears, MNEK and Deborah Cox.
Best parties at New York WorldPride
Since New York is such a huge and vibrant city, there are always a lot of Pride parties to attend during the entire month of June! Here are some of the best annual ones to look out for:
- Romy And Michele's Saturday Afternoon Tea Dance: hosted at Club Cumming, this fun event takes place every Saturday in June from 3 pm. There's sure to be lots of table dancing and maybe a few celebs in attendance. The club is named after gay actor, Alan Cumming, who owns it.
- Mister Sundays: This is an alfresco house and techno party which takes place every Sunday from 3-9 pm at the outdoor area of Nowadays. As well as DJs playing funky beats there's also a food truck serving delicious Caribbean food, a barbecue stand and a full bar with everything from cocktails to kombucha!
- Folsom Street East Street Festival XXII: Folsom Street East hosts a street festival/party as the closing act of the NYC Fetish Weekend, the weekend before the pride parade. Celebrating S.L.U.T.S (Sex, Love, Unity, Trust and Safety), this festival in Chelsea features a variety of stalls and performances for you to get a taste of the kinky side of New York.
- Pride Pool Party: the biggest annual Pride pool party is usually held in the Roommate Grace Hotel on the Saturday before the parade from 12-4pm. This is another NYC not-to-miss Pride highlight, with cocktails and fun in the pool. Just make sure you get your tickets asap as it quickly sells out.
- Torture Garden New York Pride Fetish Ball: the world's largest international fetish club always has its own special party for Pride, usually held at Capitale. Inside this multi-level bank-turned-ballroom, there will be a latex fashion show, BDSM play-space and international DJs.
- Femme Fatale: one of the best lesbian Pride parties. It takes place on the night of parade day, usually at a rooftop location and features international DJs and an inclusive atmosphere.
Where to stay in New York for Pride
When it comes to accommodation, New York has so many options to suit all budgets. You can expect most places here to be gay-friendly. We've never had an issue here and most hotel folk won't bat an eyelid. The real problem with finding a place to stay in NYC is the budget – it's not cheap here! If you're heading here on a budget, we recommend checking out the listings on AirBnB or MisterBnB.
With that being said, these are some of the best gay / gay-friendly hotels and guesthouses to check out in New York City:
The GEM Hotel Chelsea
Why we love it
- Cute boutique hotel in a great location
- Gorgeous rooftop terrace
- Gym on-site and bike rental available
- Complimentary breakfast
The GEM is a boutique hotel located in Chelsea and it really is a little gem of a find.
Prices are low for such a great location and while the rooms are small, they're perfect for those who are planning to be too busy to spend much time at a hotel anyway.
There's a gym available for working up a sweat and the hotel is also pet-friendly.
Other bonuses we love include the complimentary breakfast, coffee machine in your room, bike rental service and the bar's Happy Hour ‘buy-one-get-one-free' drinks. The rooftop terrace is the place to go for a romantic drink at sunset and spectacular views over the city.
The GEM is also two blocks away from the 23rd Street Metro station, so you'll easily be able to explore the rest of New York City from here. There are lots of great restaurants around the corner on 8th Avenue as well.
YOTEL New York Times Square
Why we love it
- Very cool and futuristic hotel
- Terrace suites come with soaking tubs
- Great location
- On-site restaurant and gym
YOTEL's New York location is a very cool, futuristic hotel, which includes a luggage-storing robot called YOBOT and automated check-in.
It's located just three blocks from Times Square, so you can easily visit during the day or night to get one of those famous photos.
We also LOVE the use of the colour purple throughout the hotel, so fabulous!
For a 4-star hotel in New York City, the prices are pretty reasonable. There are lots of amenities and services to make your stay more enjoyable as well. There's a small gym to keep fit, and the Green Fig Restaurant serves delicious Mediterranean fusion cuisine.
If you book a suite with a terrace you'll be able to use the outdoor soaking tub during summer, and there's also a rooftop terrace for drinks. All the ‘cabins' feature adjustable SmartBeds so you can make sure you have a heavenly night's sleep.
Chelsea Pines Inn
Why we love it
- Great location in Chelsea
- Affordable rates
- Complimentary breakfast and snacks
- Lovely greenhouse and garden
Located in the main gay neighbourhood of Chelsea, metres from the popular Highline park, is this charming gay friendly bed and breakfast.
Originally opened by a gay couple, the inn has since become popular with all travellers because of its great location and affordable rates.
It's still gay friendly, but not really gay exclusive anymore.
The room rates are quite affordable by New York standards, and you can choose between standard rooms, singles, a suite or an apartment. A free continental breakfast is served every day, which you can enjoy in the breakfast lounge, indoor greenhouse or leafy backyard terrace garden (weather permitting).
We love the little extras here, such as the complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and cookies that can be enjoyed in the lounge late at night. The rooms are all decorated with film posters from the Golden Age of Hollywood, as well as being named after starlets such as Kim Novak and Doris Day.
Colonial House Inn
Why we love it
- Great location in Chelsea
- Free continental breakfast
- Lovely rooftop terrace
- Complimentary happy hour
The Colonial House Inn has been a super charming and popular gay bed and breakfast in Chelsea since 1985.
Located in a gorgeous old building, we love the leafy rooftop terrace for relaxing and enjoying views over the city during the warmer months.
A continental breakfast of fresh pastries, bagels, English muffins, boiled eggs, fruits and more is offered free of charge every day.
The rates are very reasonable for New York City and you can choose from standard rooms to suites for up to five guests. We love the complimentary happy hour held in the lobby each evening, it's a great way to relax and socialise with other travellers.
You can rent bikes to explore the surrounding area and you're also only walking distance from all the great restaurants, shops and cafes of Chelsea. The staff here are very welcoming, particularly to LGBTQ travellers.
HI New York City Hostel
Upper West Side
Why we love it
- Excellent budget choice
- Lots of free events and activities
- Close to Central Park and subway stations
- Lovely shared spaces like the garden
If you're travelling on a budget, then Hostelling International's New York City Hostel is the ideal choice.
You can stay in mixed or gender-specific dorms, which house between four to twelve guests.
Located in a landmark building on the Upper West Side you'll be within walking distance of Central Park and two different subway stations to explore the rest of the city.
Rooms here are very modern, clean, stylish and comfortable. There's an on-site cafe to buy drinks and snacks or you can use the fully-stocked kitchen to cook for yourself. There are also lots of shared areas to relax and socialise, perhaps over a game of pool or giant Jenga!
The best part about HI New York is all the activities/extras on offer, such as free tours of the area, free breakfast, pub crawls, comedy nights, and more. This is a great place to stay for those who want to have fun while not breaking the bank.
Best things to do in New York
There are so many amazing things to see and do in New York during Pride, but we've narrowed down our favourites so you don't miss out on the quintessential must-dos:
Go on a Gay New York tour
When visiting New York, a tour of the main gay areas is a must for learning about the city's LGBTQ+ history. This comprehensive tour will take you to all the main gay sites such as Gay Street, the Stonewall Inn, the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the NYC AIDS Memorial and the Stonewall National Monument while explaining the significance of each. You'll get to enjoy a complimentary drink at the oldest gay bar in the city called “Juliu”, as well as a yummy ice cream cone at “Big Gay Ice Cream”! If you don't have as much time, this shorter tour also covers all the main gay sites in Greenwich village including the Stonewall Inn.
Ascend the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is perhaps one of the most recognisable buildings in the world, certainly in New York. This famous art deco skyscraper was completed in 1931, held the title for world's tallest building for over 40 years and has been named one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The highest open-air observatory in New York is located on the 86th floor and is a must-visit for incredible views of the city. If however, you want to be able to see the Empire State Building itself, then the Top of the Rock experience at Rockefeller Centre is also a great viewing spot!
See a Broadway Show
Theatre lovers will not want to miss out on another quintessential New York City activity: watching a Broadway show! There are no fewer than 41 professional theatres located in the Broadway theatre district of New York, so you'll have plenty to choose from. You can't beat a classic like The Phantom of the Opera, while childhood Disney fans will want to catch either Aladdin or our absolute favourite: The Lion King. We've actually seen it four times already and we may or may not have cried each time we've watched that opening scene!
Visit the Statue of Liberty
Perhaps the most famous icon of New York and America itself is the Statue of Liberty, a colossal neoclassical style sculpture residing on Liberty Island in New York Harbour. Gifted to the United States by the people of France, ‘Lady Liberty' symbolises freedom and is a major tourist attraction. If you want to visit (and go inside the statue) you'll need to purchase tickets, which include the ferry and museum entry. You can get good views of the statue from the free Staten Island Ferry or, for a truly incredible view of the lady, why not go for a helicopter ride above her?
Experience New York's Museums
New York City is home to hundreds of museums and art galleries, many of which are famous attractions in their own right. If you don't have too long in the city, then a visit to the MET (Metropolitan Museum of Art) is our number one choice. Not only are the entrance steps and fountains a popular filming location for TV shows like Gossip Girl, but the inside of the museum is home to nearly 2 million works of art! The MET actually has three different locations in New York, the most well-known is the main building on Fifth Avenue.
Explore Central Park
Central Park is one of the most visited parks in the United States as well as being the most filmed location in the world – hello: “Sex and the City”! Spending some time exploring this huge oasis in the middle of busy New York should not be skipped, whether you go for a picnic, jogging on one of the many trails, hire a boat on the lake, or maybe a horse-drawn carriage ride just like Carrie and Mr Big. There are numerous famous monuments to find, as well as a zoo, restaurants, sporting fields and ice-skating rinks in the winter. You'll never run out of things to do here.
Visit Central Perk!
Fans of the hit TV show “Friends” will be excited to visit the building that served as the location of exterior shots for the show, as well as the Central Perk cafe on the ground floor. The building is located at 90 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village. Today, Central Perk is a Mediterranean restaurant. If you want to visit the cafe set (as well as the apartment interiors) from the show, then you'll need to go to Los Angeles and join a Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
Take a “Sex and the City” Tour
There are plenty of filming locations from “Sex and the City” that you can visit throughout New York. We recommend joining a Sex and the City Hotspots Tour which shows you many of the locations from both the series and the SATC movies. Some of the most famous include Carrie's apartment, Aidan's furniture store and the church where Samantha met ‘Friar F**k'. Bonus points if you dress up as your favourite SATC character for the tour which does include a stop for cocktails, of course!
Shop Up a Storm
New York City is an absolute mecca for those that like to shop up a storm, with 5th Avenue perhaps the most famous shopping strip in the world. The opening scene of Breakfast At Tiffany's shows Audrey Hepburn looking into the Tiffany and Co. shop on 5th Avenue, which we've tried to recreate on a few occasions…! Other exclusive high-end brands with store locations on 5th Avenue include Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Harry Winston, Saks and so many more. For even more retail therapy head to Macy's, Bloomingdale's, or Barney's.
Enjoy the street art
As well as all the wonderful art museums, New York is home to lots of incredible open-air art in the form of graffiti and murals. The Bushwick Collective is an outdoor art gallery in Brooklyn, which has lots of amazing pieces to discover. If you join a tour you'll be able to learn about the history of the project from a local graffiti artist as well. There's also plenty of cool street art on the main island of Manhattan, including the famous Bowery Wall and murals by Space Invader. Go for a wander around and see what you can spot!
Map of New York Pride
We've made a map showing the location of all the places and events we've talked about in this article to make it easy for you to plan your own fabulous celebration of Pride in New York:
Before you go
Check out these handy hints and tips to help you plan your trip to the Big Apple:
How to get there: from within the USA, New York City is very well connected by air, rail and bus lines. If you're flying to New York from another country you will most likely be arriving at either JFK International Airport (located in Queens) or Newark Liberty International Airport which is New Jersey. Taxi queues at the airport can sometimes be a nightmare in New York City, so we recommend pre-booking a private transfer from the airport to your hotel. That way you won't have to worry about finding a cab or navigating public transport with luggage.
Visa requirements: the US has a Visa Waiver Program for citizens of some countries, which means you can travel to the USA for up to 90 days as a tourist without needing a visa. In the current political climate, you should check your personal visa requirements before booking anything, just to be on the safe side.
Getting around: New York's subway system is famous, but you can also navigate your way throughout the city via overground rail, buses, trams, ferries, cabs and Uber. The easiest way to use public transport is to buy a MetroCard, which can be topped up at machines in subway stations. This page has a lot of good information about the transport system. Another way to save money while seeing a lot of the city is to purchase a sightseeing pass, which will give you significant discounts on museums and attractions, as well as the ability to use the “Hop-On Hop-Off” sightseeing bus for up to 3 days.
Power Plugs: the United States uses plug types A and B for power, which is the same as those used in most of North and Central America, as well as in China and Japan. If you're travelling from a country other than these, then you will need to bring a travel adaptor with you.
Travel insurance: make sure you get travel insurance for your trip to New York, as you never know when you might run into problems such as accidents, theft, cancellations or anything else that could go wrong. We always use WorldNomads Travel Insurance because their cover is so comprehensive and it's really easy to make an online claim if needed.
Safety and Security: another way we like to stay safe while travelling is by using the CloseCircle ‘virtual bodyguard' app. This service provides alerts, advice and help to travellers, including emergency evacuation in extreme situations. We're not suggesting New York is an unsafe place to travel, but we like to know we're protected no matter what might happen.
Vaccinations: there are no required vaccinations for travel to the United States, although we recommend you are up to date with your vaccinations for Hepatitis A + B, measles, chickenpox, mumps, rubella and rabies.
Currency: the United States Dollar (abbreviated to USD) is used throughout the country and is also the most used currency in international transactions. £1 converts to around $1.30, €1 converts to around $1.12 and 1 Australian dollar is worth about 70 US cents.
Tipping culture: is a big deal for Americans: employers in the service sector in the US are allowed to underpay their staff with a silent “rule” that the customer makes up the rest – usually in a tip of around 20%. As Europeans, this was one of the hardest things we had to get used to in New York and travelling in the US. For a very informative guide on how much to tip in the US read this.
Internet access: internet access is not a problem in New York City, with most hotels, cafes and public places offering free WiFi. If you want to be able to work or make calls without relying on WiFi in these places then your best bet is to pre-order a local SIM card online for when you arrive.
Online privacy: accessing the Internet in the US is not an issue at all! But if you prefer to keep your online activities private, then we suggest investing in a good VPN. We recommend ExpressVPN for this as it's affordable and very reliable.
Accommodation: obviously in New York City, there are tons of accommodation options. We always use Booking.com as our starting point to search for accommodation on our travels as they have the best prices, 24/7 customer support and usually free cancellation.
Sightseeing and adventure: for more fun things to do and see in New York make sure you check out GetYourGuide. We love to use them when travelling, as they have so many exciting tours and discounted attraction tickets. The online booking process is easy to use, and their customer service is excellent.
When to visit: if you want to experience Pride, then June is the month to go to New York! The last weekend is when the main parade takes place and the weather is good because it's summer. Outside of Pride month, any time of year is great for visiting New York. You might spot snow in winter and the Christmas displays/activities are also incredible. Similarly, spring and Autumn are lovely times to visit if you're into seeing all the pretty flowers or coloured leaves in Central Park.
For more inspiration:
- Discover the gay scene of Fort Lauderdale
- Read our complete gay travel guide to Sarasota
- Explore Gay Tampa with us
- Read about gay travel to Key West.
- Read what we think are the best Pride events in the world.
- Check out what we think are the top Pride events in Latin America.
- Check out what we think are the most gay friendly countries in the world.
- Heading to Asia? Read what we think are the most gay friendly countries in Asia.